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Monday, 28 February 2011

Ever Been Broken-hearted? Listen to this....

Loneliness and feeling unloved, looked over, passed over, not 'enough' for the one you wanted and loved can, indeed, make us comfort eat. You know what -- put on some lovely music like this and listen and cry, instead.

You're not alone. It actually happens to the best of us. We're just more sensitive and loving people.

I'm glad I'm such a sap. And I'm grateful for the loves I've lost. They still sting, but they've made me that much more thankful and joyful with the love I've found.


A Cup Of Kindness

It was a classic scenario of 'good vs. evil'!

Last night, instead of having a big hunk of homemade devil's food chocolate cake -- which was not just calling out to me, but taunting me, whispering sweet nothings to me, rationalizing to me, complementing me on how great I look and simply telling me that having this one piece of cake was no big deal and in fact, I deserved it, laughing gleefully at me in all its chocolaty goodness, screaming at me to just have the gd cake!! -- I made myself a big, comforting, steaming cup of lemon,ginger tea.

Now, of course, I knew I could have the cake and probably DO deserve it after all these months of eating healthfully, tending to the physical activity and exercise my body needs, and disciplining myself from overindulging.

But, it would have been wrong. I wasn't hungry AT ALL. I wasn't celebrating anything -- well, except another day of life, and it was 9:00 PM. It would have been one of those thoughtless snacks, eaten out of boredom, pure impulse, and consumed as if I am entitled to it.

A hunk of devil's food chocolate cake, in all its, perhaps, 800 ++ kcalorie, creamy glory is a TREAT that warrants much more than just a passing 'afterthought' and I KNEW it! But, the 'devil' in the cake doesn't or if 'he(she)' DOES, the 'devil may care' attitude prevails!

Oh, I may be weak, but I wasn't last night.

This morning feels SO good! That cup of lemon,ginger tea was SO kind to my body. I slept VERY well, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for today's taunts and challenges, and I feel as light and bright as a floating angel!

It was a classic scenario of 'good vs. evil' and in the closing hours of the yester-day of my life, goodness and kindness followed me.

Today, my cup overflows!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Vitamins, Supplements, and Such

I'll get to the point.

Vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as protein or fatty acids or carb blockers or whatever else is on the shelves these days promising you a completely healthy body with total assurance, is a waste of your money and time.

PLEASE, don't get me wrong -- there are instances when additional supplements of certain vitamins, minerals, and substances IS warranted BUT, in NO WAY, should any pill, powder, or potion replace the value and need for choosing a HEALTHY DIET that yields ALL the necessary vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids, proteins, complex carbohydrates, phytochemicals, flavenoids, anti-oxidants, and fibers that your body needs for optimal function.

In fact, study after study shows that many, and most of the above substances, when taken in supplement form, are not as active or, actually, often are INACTIVE, when not consumed from a normal food/dietary source.

Plus, I can't for the life of me, fathom why anyone would go to the trouble of trying to figure out what pill, powder, or potion, to swallow and when, etc. etc. when they could and need to be spending that time, energy, and effort in focusing on making healthier food choices and decisions.

I'm a nutritionist/registered dietitian and I get totally confused when perusing the shelves and calculating what supplements need to be taken and mixed with other supplements and how to complement one or the other with one or the other to make sure they yield 100% of recommended dosages.

It is MUCH easier to just EAT a BALANCED diet and, dare I say, a MUCH more pleasant way to effect in optimizing nutritional status. I'd much rather tuck into a plate of food than line up a barrage of multi-colored pills and/or capsules to gulp down or swallow a cup of green or orange or yellow gunk.

I can't imagine what it must be like for a person who doesn't have a background in nutrition!

I have worked many years in hospitals and with very sick people, who, for one reason or another, could not eat or get their nutritional needs met by eating. It was my job to nourish these people with the use of pills, potions, and powders delivered in exactly the right dosages at exactly certain times to maximize tolerance, absorption, and metabolism. I can only tell you that ALL of these folks would've given their souls to be able to nourish themselves with wonderful, delicious, healthy, blessed fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and poultry, beans and legumes, lovely breads and grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, even cool, clean water!! But, they couldn't!!!

So, when perfectly capable people shun wiser food choices in place of supplements, I just scratch my head in bewilderment.

Granted, many people who are watching their total kcalorie intake need supplemental iron, calcium, and often B-vitamins. A good OTC multivitamin/mineral supplement should take care of these needs.

People who live in northern, dark climates often need vitamin D, calcium,and sometimes vitamin A supplements.

People who are chronic smokers often need folic acid and vitamin C supplements.

Pregnant women need a host of vitamin/mineral supplements, hence special preparations of supplements for pregnant women.

Many people, especially thin, middle-aged women, with a genetic predisposition, need supplemental calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis from occurring or worsening.

But, UNLESS, you have been found to be deficient by a good medical check-up with proper lab work and blood tests revealing a deficiency or symptom or condition from a lack of any vitamin, mineral, trace element, protein, fatty acid, or other nutrient or substance -- save your money and focus on food -- good, balanced, delicious food.

If you are one of the lucky ones who CAN eat, digest, absorb, and excrete food -- please -- GO FOR IT! There may come a day when you actually DO need the supplements in order to survive and revive your health. Hopefully, by eating well now, that day won't ever come!

This is what I truly hope and pray for all of you!

Peace v :)

Friday, 18 February 2011


I am thankful for another day of choosing to eat healthy and only ENOUGH for my needs and that I am enjoying my food.

I am thankful for exercise and walking in the fresh air and the great gym I go to.

I am thankful that I live in a country where I can FREELY walk, safely, and, actually, in beautiful surroundings that enable me to think and reflect and be inspired.

I am thankful that my organs are all functioning well and that I am healthy.

I am thankful that everyone in my family is healthy.

I am thankful that I had a good night's sleep last night and that I CAN sleep -- safe, warm, free.

Someone once told me that there is nothing worse than a thankless child. I NEVER want to become that 'child' and I pray my children don't, either. I NEVER EVER want to feel entitled. I know many people who do and it makes me mad AND sad just thinking about how they complain about the most ridiculous things -- not having this iPad or that iPod or that newest dorky thing that came out yesterday or, worse yet, HAVING it, but not as jazzed up as another person we know. They HAVE and HAVE and HAVE, but they whinge and complain like spoiled tarts.

Please, Lord, help me to ALWAYS, be THANKFUL -- today, tomorrow, and always and forgive me for any whinging and complaining.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Nutrish and Delish -- Super Sauce

Every single recommendation to eat healthy in every country of the world that puts out recommendations is emphasizing increasing fruit and vegetable intake. The '5-a-day' campaign in the UK will shortly change to '8-a-day' and the new Dietary Guidelines in the US specifically mentions making half your plate vegetables and fruits. This is good advice, as fruits and vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and are low in kcalories, thus yielding intense nutritional value without all the 'baggage' of artery-clogging fats, liver/pancreas/kidney/brain/blood-busting simple sugars, and excess kcalories. The anti-oxidants and phytochemicals found in vegetables and fruits scavenge and cleanse our bodies of mutating substances and really do protect against various cancers as well as diabetes, CVD, hypertension, and obesity.

What we all must realize is that we don't have to turn into rabbits in order to increase our intake. We just need to choose fresh foods and be more adventurous about trying new things. We must GET AWAY from the burgers, pizza, subs and oversized sandwiches, meat/cheese laden Mexican foods, or meat and cheese laden ANY type of food -- be it Italian, Greek, whatever. Actually, Mediterranean type foods that are well-made and FRESH should NOT have so much cheese and fatty meat -- if it does, it's probably the Americanized version of it.

Here's a recipe that will help you get a good dose of your daily vegetables as each serving yields 3 vegetables. The best news is -- it's easy and delicious. It's a sort of vegetable 'bolognese' sauce without the meat. You CAN also add cooked, lean beef mince, if you like, for a richer sauce, but, will only need to add half or a third of the meat that you usually use to make a bolognese sauce. That actually can save you about 300 kcals and 30 grams of fat per serving! Not a bad idea!

Here's the recipe -- make it today!

Super Sauce

1 small onion or 2 medium shallots, chopped
2 garlic gloves, chopped
1 T olive oil
2 cups (500 g) mix of cubed or diced butternut squash and sweet potato -- can use all of either one
1 can chopped tomatoes or 2 cups fresh chopped pomodori tomatoes
generous portions of herbs, to taste, like basil, thyme, oregano -- can be fresh or dried
salt and pepper -- to taste, but be easy on the salt -- the goal is to try to reduce sodium as much as possible, which is why you need to have a freer hand with herbs!

Add olive oil to a relatively deep non-stick fry pan on medium heat and let spread a bit. Add onion and garlic and sautee` until soft and transparent -- can add water so as not to brown the onion/garlic. Add cubed butternut, sweet potato and stir fry until just slightly caramelized and then add water to cover. Bring the vegetables to a simmer for about 15 minutes until the butternut/sweet potato starts to soften. Add tomatoes (at this point,you can add more water to mixture -- about a cup -- I add another canful from the tomato can to get out all the tomato -- about that much), herbs, salt and pepper and simmer whole mixture for another 25-30 minutes on low heat until butternut/sweet potato are soft and melding through tomatoes.
This mixture is now ready to serve over cooked pasta of your choice -- preferably WHOLE GRAIN for maximum nutritional yield. Add chopped fresh parley or basil, as edible garnish.

You can choose to blitz the sauce through a blender if you want it smooth and 'creamy'.

Serves 4. Can be easily doubled to serve 8-10.

Sprinkle grated sharp pecorino or parmesan cheese and tuck in!

Sometimes, I add a few dollops of fat-free plain yogurt through the mixture just before serving, for extra calcium and protein.

Optional (for another interesting 'kick' to the sauce): After you've added tomatoes, spoon in 2 T reduced-fat hummus to mixture -- this gives a very interesting delicious hint of flavor to the sauce and is also packs a bit extra protein and fiber without adding TOO much fat.


Monday, 14 February 2011

Heart Healthy Valentine Menu -- Quick and Easy!

We don't eat red meat that often (once every 2 weeks), but tonight just seems to call for it! Here's a very quick and easy menu to put together. Try to get the freshest ingredients possible, but if you must use what's in your cupboard or from the shops -- so be it -- more time for other activities! ;) If you are vegetarians, for your main course, make an omelette with mushrooms and gorgonzola cheese. Omit the mozzarella cheese in the starter. If you are vegans, make your best lentil or nut roast!

Heart Healthy Valentine Menu -- Quick and Easy

Starter: Insalata Caprese -- creamy, but light fresh mozzarella -- sliced thinly and layered with ripe red tomatoes and fresh basil leaves with virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled on top

Main Course: Succulent Sirloin Steaks -- take thin-cut fresh steaks, season them and grill, as you like. Serve with grilled mushrooms

Sides: Garden green beans (can serve with slivered almonds)
Crisp oven-baked new potatoes (boil potatoes first, drain and gently pat dry, drizzle with olive oil and rosemary and bake in hot oven for 20 minutes till golden -- add rock salt before serving)

Dessert: Wacky Cake* with Sliced Strawberries and Strawberry Drizzle and Lite whipped Cream

*Wacky Cake Recipe
From Granny Tam

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3 Tb unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
6 Tb cooking oil
1 Tb vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup water

Oven Temp ~ 350° Baking Time ~ 35 Min.
Pan Type ~ 8X8 inch pan (DO NOT grease)

In a medium-mixing bowl, mix ALL ingredients together (by hand) until well blended.
Pour mixture into un-greased pan and bake in a PRE-HEATED oven,
until toothpick comes out clean from center

Let cool -- turn out onto plate or cutting board.

Arrange sliced strawberries around or on top and then puree a cup of atrawberries and drizzle on top or around.

Serve with whipped cream or a dollop of vanilla ice cream!


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Scared Skinny!

The other night I had one of those DREAM REVELATIONS!

......'SCARED SKINNY' were the words I was uttering as I abruptly woke up, in the wee hours of the morning, as I clutched my chest, gasping for air!!!

My mom passed away last summer. No matter where in the world I lived, Mom called me or I, her -- EVERY DAY -- just to shoot the breeze about the day. Even talking about 'same old, same old' with Mom was hilarious and comforting. She was my voice of reason in this crazy world. And she always knew what was on my mind even if I didn't say it exactly. She could tell by the tone of my voice, the pauses in the conversation, the 'look' in my eye -- even over the PHONE! This was before Skype! And she ALWAYS knew EXACTLY what she needed to say to me -- what HAD to be said, sometimes -- the things NO ONE else WOULD or COULD say to me -- to make me get on with life and all that I had to do.

Lately, I've been needing to talk to Mom. Alas....

My dream....!!!!

'I was in a space waiting to see and talk to my Mom. I could see her 'outline' in the distance and she 'looked' good -- glowing, in fact, and her hair was done so nice -- exactly how she liked it. Before I could get 'in' to see her, I had to go through some sort of 'purification' process -- a 'consecration' process -- so said the 'man' who was the 'go-between'. I recognized the man. He was from our church here. He's this guy that is looked up to by all at the church. He's got a big job, a wonderful wife, and three lovely children. Most of all, though, he ALWAYS knows exactly the right thing to say....about the Bible, about God, about how we need to serve and love God, about how we all must live our lives, and how he lives to glorify God -- in EVERYTHING he does. He's SO wise, ALL THE TIME! In fact, sometimes I find him nauseatingly 'wise'. He often gets on my nerves. I never EVER tell anyone this and I never would. I don't want to hurt him and I certainly don't want to jade others' opinion of him -- especially because he truly seems to inspire people. He just doesn't inspire ME! What can I say -- I'm too cynical and skeptical for my own good! I actually LONG to be inspired. Fortunately, I AM inspired -- sometimes -- it so happens that the people who inspire me the most don't seem to ever be at church!

And my husband ...he inspires me. I've never know anyone who goes after life with such gusto,the way he does, in spite of failure and setbacks. He shrugs off negativity and just MOVES ON to the next adventure, the next challenge, the next hurdle, and HE MAKES THINGS HAPPEN! As one person once said about him ...he is 'truly a force of nature and a force to be reckoned with'. I'm so blessed to have a person like him in my life and the Lord has delivered on His promise to find me someone who would continue to love me and cherish me, through thick and thin, for better or for worse -- in the way that I've always known from my upbringing and my own 'nest'. I come from a long line of people who love and live like this. We're strong and forgiving and a faithful lot. I pray that our children and our children's children continue this legacy of faith,love, hope, and strength.

Anyway ..... the man in my dream.... he is dressed in a white suit -- and he is smiling and telling me I can get to see my Mom. BUT, FIRST, I have to be purified and consecrated and HE will be the one to purify and consecrate me. HIM? (I think to myself!) Man, he must REALLY be HOLY that God chose HIM to be the guy to purify and consecrate people....BUT.... I find him a bit creepy? (I think to myself). I don't WANT him to be the one to purify and consecrate me (I think to myself). Why did God choose HIM?! He gives me the heebie-jeebies! And as he comes toward me....smiling, with his big white hands held out to usher me into the purification/consecration, I panic!! I back up, I can't go -- I WON'T go -- I can't breathe! I can't catch my breath -- I'm gasping now....because he's moving toward me....he's SO SCARY....I am SCARED SKINNY!!!!!'

'SCARED SKINNY' were the words I was uttering as I abruptly woke up, in the wee hours of the morning, as I clutched my chest, gasping for air.

Lately, I have REALLY been struggling with getting down to the weight and, more so, the percentage fat that I want to achieve. I have my personal goals and in the past few months, JUST when I'm ALMOST there -- attaining these goals and then on the roll, in the zone I need to be in and STAY in to STAY there -- I choke, for some reason. It's as if I NEED to undermine and screw myself. It's NOT good. And see, I'M the EXPERT! These things are NOT supposed to happen to ME! Right?!

WRONG! Those of us who deal with all of this, for a living, are probably weaker than most people when it comes to these issues. That's what drew us to work in these fields to begin with. Well, that was the case for me, but, maybe not for all of you -- you are probably all very strong and steady. And I usually am, TOO! Because I KNOW, FIRST HAND -- how incredibly FANTASTIC it feels to live healthy. My body feels GREAT and it keeps my mind, soul, and heart in total balance and full of joy! Eating fresh and balanced and healthy and exercising regularly IS the MAGIC BULLET and FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH -- REALLY!!!

But, it's not all about just looking good -- it's about HEALTH. Because I generally look good, people have no idea that I am NOT at my own personal best. I was before Mom got ill and then, the sorrow and sadness overtook me. I was sleep deprived, I got out of my usual regular exercise and work-out rhythm, I started comfort eating, I developed rashes, I had to go on steroids -- I was a MESS! THANKFULLY, with time and healing and the grace of God, I pulled myself out of it. But, THEN, the 'teasing'and this blasted, taunting struggle started -- almost getting totally back on track, and then pulling back, just as I was within days of achieving my goals. PURE FRUSTRATION! UNTIL the other night....'SCARED SKINNY' ....I tell you!

It's as if Mom is telling me -- "Be scared, Mar, be VERY scared....until you achieve your personal goals and get back to your personal BEST! Then, you can BREATHE DEEP again, you can FEEL as good as you look, but this time, STAY LOOKING GOOD because UNLESS YOU GET AND STAY HEALTHY -- the looks will fade. As you succumb to unhealthy eating episodes (they are not all-out 'binges' -- so let's just call them 'episodes' -- ie -- they are MORE than my body needs per time or day)and/or forego your regular exercise sessions, all your beauty will be just an illusion. Your true 'beauty' lies in taking good care of your blessed healthy organs, balanced metabolic cycles,optimal hormone syntheses and secretions, and body functions. Your 'beauty' will glow from within a soul and spirit that is kept sacred. If it means to have to pull back and feel 'scared skinny' in order to stop your nonsense, then so be it! Now, go and do what you have to do! Get on with it!"

And that's EXACTLY what I've been doing! Whenever I feel tempted -- 'scared skinny' makes me walk away and think healthy! Oh, I will never be 'skinny', but I'm also not going to stand for becoming 'scary fat'.

Thanks, Mom!

I feel truly purified in purpose. I am consecrated to act from the legacy of love and Providence that I have been blessed with, as I strive to fulfill my destiny in this crazy and needy world.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

I can't wait until tomorrow

Sorry, folks, but today was a bust for me. Actually, oddly enough -- the only thing I DID do right was choose to eat healthy. So, perhaps today hasn't been a total write-off.

In my former days of being disappointed by people and life, in general, I would turn to food -- preferably junk food -- to somehow ease the pain and balm the hurt. My body can't take that type of abuse anymore -- I actually get really ill and feel like total crap if I do that.

In fact, eating healthy has become one of the ways I DO make myself feel good when I feel down. Who would have ever thought?! I find that puttering around in the kitchen with colorful, wholesome, and really GOOD healthy food CALMS me and makes me feel CONSTRUCTIVE and soothed against the backdrop of totally crap people and situations.

I won't get into specifics, but people can totally suck sometimes. People can be selfish, self-absorbed, and only interested in you for what they can suck out of you. And they do it all in such a way as to cover themselves -- they act like THEY are the sad victims of life's unfairness. BAH!

I actually cried after I walked away from a few people who really and truly threw me for a loop. But, I walked away with my head held high and I cried alone, in privacy.

I STILL really feel down as I have the whole day. Perhaps I should have taken a walk or gone to the gym. It was a cold, miserable, and rainy day, so I didn't do that - but I did create a wonderful dish for the family of whole wheat spaghetti with a 'sauce' made of garlic, baby pomodori tomatoes, and fresh anchovies and greens, crushed to a paste and sauteed in a scant tablespoon of olive oil. I folded the 'sauce' into the cooked spaghetti and served this with a salad of fresh rocket with lemon and olive oil dressing and toasted pine nuts.

I drank some lovely lemon ginger tea. This is so soothing and delicious when made with fresh grated or sliced ginger, grated lemon rind, and sliced lemons. Just steep boiling water through those fresh ingredients and a normal tea bag (you can use de-caf tea if desired) and -- voila-- instant comfort with a boost! It is a feast for the senses -- smell, taste, and warmth. If you don't need to watch your sugar or kcalorie intake, you can add honey.

I curled up on the sofa and watched a funny episode of '30 Rock' and then some English period drama.

People CAN suck, but tomorrow will be better. I'm sure of it. I KNOW someone will do something wonderful for me and all faith in humanity will be restored. I can hardly wait!

Sweet dreams!